Category Archives: Project Management

How to give a great presentation

The idea of giving a presentation can be daunting but it’s something many professionals will have to do at some time or another, whether it be for a job interview or in the weekly Monday morning briefing.

Anyone who’s stood up and delivered a speech of some kind in front of total strangers, or indeed people you know relatively well, knows it is not an easy task and that it takes practice to get it right.

Delivering a good presentation also requires preparation and if you put in the time and research certain key areas then your chances of blowing away your audience increase immeasurably.

Think about who your audience will be

How many people will be there?

What will their attitude be? 

How much do they already know?

Are they there by choice?

What language will be most appropriate?

Prepare you material 

Brainstorm all your ideas

Aim for no more than eight main points

Open with an inspiring, positive, attention-grabbing statement of intent

Make sure each part of the material has a purpose

A simple, effective plan for any presentation is to keep in mind the following:

  1. Tell them what you are going to tell them. Then they know what to expect and there will be no surprises and tell them what they will get from it.
  2. Tell them. Deliver the presentation as you have told them you will and invite questions throughout.
  3. Tell them what you have told them. Succinctly recap and review what you have delivered in the presentation and invite questions.

If used in the right way, visual aids are a fantastic addition to any presentation because if something is written down in a clear format it is often easier to understand. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for using visual aids:

  • Do keep each visual as simple as you can
  • Do maintain eye contact with the audience. Resist the temptation to stare at your work.
  • Do check the equipment for your presentation and have spares of everything.
  • Don’t write everything down on the visual, leave yourself some things to say – it’s not a script
  • Don’t use just one colour – vary between light and dark and texts and backgrounds.
  • Don’t leave a visual up if you’ve finished talking about it.

For more information on the courses Catalyst offer or to find about our FREE Leadership & Management seminars, click HERE 


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The Skills/Motivation Matrix – do you recognise any of these?

Skills and motivation are the two key components needed if you want to achieve optimal performance. Having one without the other, both or even neither obviously has a massive impact on what a person can achieve.

As you will see from the words below, depending on the skill/motivation combination determines what kind of approach is required in terms of managing that person and maximising their performance.

Directing (low skills/low motivation)

Raising skills and motivational levels through training of short-term tasks.

The manager helps the person to envision a future they can construct, own and direct, and they set themselves short- and long-term goals to achieve this. Learning is structured through a series of cumulative events or short-term tasks with deadlines.

Guiding (low skills/high motivation)

Raising skill levels through on-the-job training, guidance, envisioning, support and encouragement. 

The manager needs to effect a real commitment to the employee’s vision of their future, ensuring that activity is consistent with this goal and is founded on what this future would really be like if the skills are fully developed and embedded in different practice.

Inspiring (high skills/low motivation)

Increasing motivation through opportunities for short-term successes, brokering resources, making connections.

Find out why there is low motivation. Skill is required to work adeptly on the positives expressed by employee in the dialogue, without being trapped into agreeing with or joining in the dissatisfaction. A range of short-term actions should be agreed that will bring a raft of successes to build on further and generate new enthusiasm.

Delegating (high skills/high motivation):

Exploiting connections, creating rich opportunities, disseminating benefit through delegated freedom to experiment.

The freedom to experiment needs to be well supported to allow mistakes to happen and to gather learning from such eventualities. The manager will be careful not to supervise the processes, but to work alongside with subtlety to evidence their interest, maximise the on-going dialogue about the learning arising from the experimentation.

To find out more about Catalyst’s accredited Leadership & Management courses and for information on our FREE seminars call us on 0207 436 3636 or click here to visit our website.


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Project Management – the why, what and how

Project Management sounds like a big deal, but actually, anything you do that is outside your ordinary day-to-day activities is a project.

And because projects are unusual and different, they get noticed. Managing a project well, even a small one, will make a big difference in how you are seen as a manager.

It is essential when starting out on a project that those involved agree why the project is being done and what the outcome should be. Then you need a plan. Without these in place, your chances of success are small.

So if you are involved in a project at the moment, write down why you think it is being done. Then ask others involved why they think it is being done. I think you will be very surprised at the wide variety of answers you get.


  • It is vital that the project’s objective is clearly defined and that the scope (what is included and what is excluded) is set in advance.
  • It is critical that there is a written business case for the project. This contains the argument explaining why it is worth investing resources in the initiative. The business case therefore also specifies what the benefits will be (in terms of outcomes for the organisation).

Since there are now clearly defined reasons for undertaking the project, the date the project should be delivered can also be determined. So a realistic start date and an anticipated end date should be fixed.

The project typically produces outputs that the organisation then puts to work to derive the benefits, in other words, the required outcome(s). 


Although the objective is now clear and the expected benefits in terms of outcomes have been defined, it is important to refine the scope and express the actual inputs and outputs expected for the project. For example, a project to produce marketing literature for use on an exhibition stand may have the expected benefit of increased sales to potential customers, but there is no detail about the project’s output (or product definition, to use PRINCE2 terminology). Is it a single sheet of A4 printed in black? Or a card folder holding multiple sheets with details of different products? Or a 20-page full-colour brochure with a high-gloss cover?

It is also important to define the boundaries of the project and, within the project, to identify the full content of work to be done. This is often done using a Work breakdown structure, a technique that ensures that each and every element of work that will be needed to be carried out has been identified and can be timed and resourced. Thanks to the lack of this important discipline, many projects have suffered considerable cost growth or have indeed failed, because key elements have been left out or introduced at an advanced stage. One such element of work that is often overlooked is the project management process work that will be needed to deliver the project.

It is by defining the desired inputs/outputs and scope that three critical questions can be answered:

  • How long will it take (time)?
  • How much will it cost (money and people resources)?
  • What quality or performance (from the output) is expected?

These are key factors that in many cases will need to be re-iterated. There is little point in trying to produce a 20-page, full-colour brochure inside a week on a tight budget. Equally (generally), you don’t need six months to produce a single sheet of A4 printed in a single colour. 

Time, cost and quality are often portrayed as three sides of a triangle because they are dependant on each other. Typically, shortage of time tends to increase cost; tight budgets can impact quality; high quality requirements can affect both time and cost – and so on. The relative values of time, cost and quality are determined in the business case, and it is important that the project client (or sponsor) knows their relationship so they can advise the project manager on the value to the business of saving time and so on. It’s no good simply asking for the project output to be delivered as quickly, as cheaply and to the best quality possible, since common sense would demonstrate these are conflicting objectives!


A project needs a plan – one that specifically includes

  • Timescale – depending on complexity, this may just be the start and end dates, or it may include a set of pre-determined milestones that have to be reached by given dates
  • The composition of the team that will run the project – their skills and availability
  • Stakeholders – these are the people (internal and external) who have a stake in the outcome of the project or are impacted by it and therefore need to be identified, consulted with and kept informed
  • Budget – how much will the project cost in financial terms and when will expected costs fall due?
  • Resources – what other resources apart from people (the team) and money (the budget) may be needed, and how will they be made available?
  • Quality – what is the quality desired and how can it be measured?
  • Schedule – the logical sequence of activities necessary to complete the project and the time needed to complete each activity. The critical path is the longest sequence of activities to complete the overall project (this is also therefore the shortest possible project duration).

Skills needed

From this description, it is relatively easy to imagine the project management skills that are needed – they range from the ability to plan and take decisions to the need to communicate well, from managing a team on the one hand to dealing with other stakeholders on the other. The manager also needs the ability to think clearly, plan ahead, foresee obstacles, picture potential risks and motivate people to achieve the objective on time, within budget and at the expected quality.

Courtesy of People Alchemy

Here at Catalyst we deliver ILM accredited leadership and management courses so you can be the best project manager you can be. For more information or to book a place on one of our interactive workshops please visit:


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